50 Free Holiday & Christmas Activities in DC, Virginia, and Maryland

Winter Activities

There are so many free holiday and Christmas activities in the DC area, that I had to cap it at 50! I'm grateful we live in the DMV where you don't have to spend a lot to make wonderful family memories this holiday season! (And sign up for my free monthly newsletter to receive a PDF December Calendar and Holiday Lights Cheat Sheet.)

free-holiday-christmas-activities-washington dc

Table of Contents:

  1. Washington DC Free Things to Do (32)
  2. Maryland Free Activities (8)
  3. Virginia Free Activities (10)

Washington DC Free Holiday & Christmas Activities

Christmas holiday light displays dc

  1. ZooLights at the National Zoo - November 25 until December 30th. Free but will need a pass.More info here.
  2. US Botanic Gardens Holiday Display and Trains - November 24 and January 2nd. Free and more info here.
  3. Downtown Holiday Market - November 18 - December 23
    1. Noon to 8 PM daily. (closed Thanksgiving Day and December 5th)
  4. Light Yards - December 1, 2022 - January 1, 2023
  5. Capitol Hill Neighborhood Tree Lighting - Saturday November 26, free and no reservation needed
  6. City Center Holiday Lighting - Saturday November 26, free and no reservation needed. Spectacular 75-foot tree decked with over 155,000 lights and ornaments. Open daily after the lighting.
  7. National Menorah - Lighting on December 18 and will be lit for the following holiday
  8. National Christmas Tree and 58 Trees- December 2nd through January 1st
    1. Located on the Ellipse on the White House grounds, the lights will turn on at sunset each evening and turn off at 10 pm Sunday - Thursday and 11 pm on Friday and Saturday. Full tips post from our December 2022 visit here!
  9. Capitol Christmas Tree
  10. Georgetown Park: Beginning November 20th, Grace Street Plaza will dazzle with over 15,000 multicolored lights and festive decorations. At the Pinstripes entrance of the Plaza, an oversized holiday ornament awaits the perfect photo moment.
    1. Saturday, December 3, 10, and 17 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., passersby can take a holiday photo with Georgetown Park’s photo booth-style photographer and receive a complimentary copy.
    2. On the first Saturday, December 3rd, Mama’s Donut Bites will hand out free donuts from 5:00 to 9:00 pm! 
    3. On December 9th, Georgetown Park will team up with the Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) and Grace Street Collective for the annual Grace Street Holiday Bonfire & Block Party. Hosted in the Grace Street Lot, the bonfire is back and bigger than ever with live music, food, and drinks. Nearby at Grace Church Lawn from 6 - 10 p.m., the Georgetown BID will host a Silent Disco where participants can dance alongside the Butterfly Effect GLOW light art installation.
  11. Georgetown GLOW, an outdoor light art experience on East Market Lane returns with the stunning and whimsical exhibit Cloud Swing by Lindsay Glatz & the Curious Form New Orleans. This interactive installation, which features suspended multicolored swings, will be open to the public from November 26 until January 22.
  12. Union Station Tree and Train Display - TBD on when it is going up.
  13. SAAM In-Person Winter Holiday Family Day - Saturday, December 3, 11:30 a.m.– 3 p.m. ET. Free but need to register.
    1. "Celebrate the season with the Smithsonian American Art Museum! Kids will enjoy winter-themed crafting, face painting, and story time under the twinkle lights in the Kogod Courtyard. Get in the holiday spirit with a reading of The Nutcracker, groove to the beat of DJ Harry Hotter, and embark on a scavenger hunt in the galleries to find winter-themed artworks. Participants also may take home an activities packet (while supplies last) to accompany The Nutcracker story time and continue the holiday fun."


Maryland Free Holiday and Christmas Things to Do


Credit: Jeffrey Socha

  1. National Harbor Tree Light Show - Every evening from November 12 to January 3rd
    1. One of the prettiest in the region! And the giant Ferris wheel is all lit up for the holidays too! Light show info here.
  2. Gaylord National Hotel Shine Line Show - Free in the atrium. November 25, 2022 - December 31, 2022. Daily: 7:30pm, 8:45pm, 9:15pm
  3. Sailing Through the Winter Solstice Frederick - November 19, 2022 - March 4, 2023.
    1. "You can view the boats anytime day or night. In fact, you may want to take a look while it's light out and again after it gets dark and the lights come on. Lights typically turn on at sunset, so this is a great time to see them both ways." 
  4. German Christmas Village at Baltimore's Inner Harbor - Free on weekends but $5 admission for adults to heated tent on weekends. November 24th, 2022 through December 24th, 2022 (closed November 21-23, 29; December 5-6, 12-13)
  5. Silver Spring Christmas Market and Holiday Craft Fair- Dec 4
  6. 25th Annual Baltimore Holiday Parade - December 3rd
  7. 32nd Annual Bel Air Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting - December 4th
  8. Tinkergarten Free Lantern Walks all around Maryland - Check their website and put in your zip code. Free and welcome to all who register! Late afternoons in early December. Bring your own lantern and light up the darkness with your community. Their website has details on how to make one. Locations in Maryland include Sligo-Bennington Neighborhood Park and Casa Comfort Corner of Aspen & Lincoln Avenues,Takoma Park, MD.
  9. A Dickens of a Christmas Weekend - Dec 2-3- Chestertown
    1. "Set in the Historic District, the festival celebrates the season with live music, carriage rides, Victorian food and drink, costumed characters, entertainment and more."

Virginia Free Holiday and Christmas Activities

Leesburg Christmas itinerary free things holiday virginia

  1. Old Town Alexandria - Lovely to walk around the historic streets and numerous Waterfront parks. Their Scottish Parade is Saturday, December 3rd at 11 AM.
  2. Christmas in Middleburg - Dec 2-3, 2022
    1. Join one of the most fun-filled family festivals of the year in Middleburg with activities, special events, great eats, the famous Middleburg Hunt Review, a mile-long Christmas parade.
  3. Gulf Branch Park, Arlington - Confirming dates but last year until December 18
    1. Santa mailbox to drop off a letter from your child! If you send a letter by December 18, you will receive a postcard from Santa!
  4. Manassas Christmas Parade - December 3rd at 10 AM (great pics on their site!)
  5. Bluemont Vineyard - Lighting of the Vines begins November 25 (though the opening night is sold out). Then they will light the vines every Thursday to Sunday after wards at 5:30 PM.
  6. Scottish Walk Open House at Carlyle House - Alexandria Dec. 3rd
  7. Lucketts Old General Store and Grounds
    1. Free to walk around the grounds for lovely holiday displays, bonfires, and food trucks (including Carpedonut!) I wrote about our Christmas Itinerary of all free things here.
  8. Walk of Lights at Neabsco Regional Park in Woodbridge
    1. Walk down a magical path of hand-crafted light displays Beginning Saturday, November 26- December 31 on Fridays-Sundays | 5:30-9 pm. No registration required
    2. Thanks to @FamilyAdventuresVA on Instagram for their post here.
  9. Rocking Around the Boardwalk at Neabsco Regional Park in Woodbridge
    1. Free Event but Registration Highly recommend. Includes Holiday Music, Unique Holiday Tree Display on the Boardwalk, and Holiday Selfie Station
    2. Saturday, December 10, 2022 through December 31, 2022.
    3. *Registration is highly recommended due to popular demand. Limited parking is available. Register early! 10:30 am - 12 noon, 12:30 - 2pm and 2:30 - 4pm
  10. Free Neighborhood Light Displays (full blog post coming soon but you can see my instagram posts from last year of the Elf House in Burke)
  11. Tinkergarten Free Lantern Walks all around Virginia and Maryland - Check their website and put in your zip code. Free and welcome to all who register! Late afternoons in early December. Bring your own lantern and light up the darkness with your community. Their website has details on how to make one. Locations in Virginia include Hidden Pond park, Lake Ridge Marina and Wolf Trap Park.
  12. Ballston Quarter: On December 3rd, 10th and 17th, visitors to the shopping and dining destination can celebrate the season this year with tunes and complimentary hot cocoa.
    1. A very special Holiday Dog Party on December 17th from 2-6 pm, and lots of jolly holiday spirit.

free holiday virginia tinkergarten

Picture by Michelle Lyn White, Tinkergarten leader at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia

All the DMV Holiday Posts in One Spot here or specific posts below!

  1. Top 10 Holiday Spots in DC (great for out of town visitors!)
  2. 10 Things to do for New Year's in DMV and at Home
  3. 20 Holiday Lights in the DMV
  4. Experience Gift Ideas
  5. 3 Neighborhood Lights in Burke and Springfield (including The Elf House!)
  6. Ice Skating in the DMV
  7. Sledding Spots in the DMV
  8. Snow Tubing at Bryce Resort, Virginia
  9. Sledding at Blackwater Falls, West Virginia
  10. Modlin's Maryland Christmas Tree Farm